South East Asian Headlines & Breaking News

TNA calls for federal setup with self-determination rights amidst push for 13A – report

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The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main Tamil political party in Sri Lanka, has renewed its demand for a federal system with self-determination rights, amidst President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s efforts to implement the 13th amendment to the Constitution, PTI reported on Tuesday.

Last week, President Wickremesinghe made a special address to Parliament, urging all political parties to collaborate in the implementation of the 13A while excluding police powers.

However, TNA leader R Sampanthan in a letter addressed to the President on Monday reiterated the party’s commitment to a federal solution, the report said.

“We have repeatedly obtained a mandate from the Tamil populace in the north and east to work towards a political solution based on a federal structure consonant, with the right of self-determination in the area of our historical habitation,” the letter stated.

Recalling India’s pivotal role in 1987 on 13A, the veteran Tamil leader reminded Wickremesinghe that, despite the devolution of powers to the provinces envisioned by the amendment, the constitution’s unitary nature has at times led to the central government reclaiming the devolved powers.

‘‘India offered its good offices in 1983, which were accepted by the Sri Lankan government, culminating in the signing of the Indo-Lanka accord on July 29, 1987,’’ he said in the letter.

The TNA urged Wickremesinghe to “expeditiously implement all the powers granted to the provinces in the Constitution and hold the long-delayed provincial council elections”.

The 13A was brought in after the India-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987. It created nine provinces as devolved units with a temporary merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces.

The elections for the nine provinces have been on hold since 2018 following a move to introduce electoral reforms. It now needs a parliamentary amendment to enable the elections to be held under the existing proportional representation system.

President Wickremesinghe has been reiterating that he would bring in the 13A amendment to make the system of provincial councils more meaningful by reducing the central government’s powers to curb their functioning.

He has said the stalled provincial council elections could be held after the Parliament’s agreement on their powers.

Source: PTI

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